Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Early Spring Catch-up

I have been trying to get back to posting, but seem to be to easily distracted with other projects.  The long nights of winter have given way to spring and the time of long daylight hours.  

For most of the winter the only birds seen were Common Ravens as are able to find enough to eat  even in the coldest time of year.  The population in our area has increased from only one pair in the early 1980’s to over 45 individuals these days.  most of the increase has been from all the added  buildings and pipelines in the area that now give the ravens a place to nest.  The  flat tundra was never home to many ravens.

We enjoyed having the muskox herd continue to winter not far from us and we could watch them from the house with the spotting scope.  I also made a couple snow machine trips to film the winter herd.





Winter Muskox in the glow of  a low sun January

April brought our first new birds, our local nesting population of Snow Buntings started arriving.  To us spring has arrived when you can step out the house and hear the lovely song of a Snow Bunting.  The other April bird I saw was a male Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus) on a short snow machine trip up river from the house. 








                                                              Male Snow Bunting


  Rock Ptarmigan Male

April also saw the end of our Polar Lights viewing as the night were becoming to light and only extremely bright ones could be seen by the middle of the month.   And of course the sun started to have some strong solar activity which we weren’t able to enjoy.

Pulsating_Aurora_7401                                              Pulsating Polar Lights over our home.

Early May brought a couple highlights for me. First I found my first local Raven’s nest on one of oilfield bridges.  The nest showed that the raven was using all the products around to line its nest from traditional to modern, caribou hair, moss, and fiberglass insulation.  She had four greenish blue, speckled eggs.

                                                              Common Raven Nest & Eggs.

RavenNest-1097 CORA_Eggs1-1108







The other event was getting to see a couple of very small muskox calves playing on a bright sunny day. Still plenty of snow and we were still having night temperatures dropping down to –20F.  Little muskox are tough being born at this time when we are still having such cold temperatures and winter type blizzards.








               Muskox Herd Early May- Small Calves Dashing About.

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Arctic Smoke Signals by James W. Helmericks is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.